Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 12, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MERCENARIES?....Max Boot writes today about a way that the public outcry over immigration provides an opportunity for improving both the quality and quantity of our military recruitment:

Lost in the uproar has been an idea so meritorious that it should win universal assent: Create a fast track toward citizenship for those willing to serve a stint in the United States armed forces.

....This would address two critical shortcomings. First, it would make it easier for the U.S. armed forces to fill their ranks with high-quality volunteers. Second, it would increase the armed forces' knowledge of foreign languages and customs.

....Our current conflicts also require intimate knowledge of the areas where our soldiers operate, because their tasks are often as much diplomatic as military. Recruiting foreigners could go a long way toward filling this critical knowledge deficit.

This is an idea that's been floating around for a long time, and I've never quite been able to make up my mind what I think about it. On the one hand, as Boot acknowledges, it reeks of hiring mercenaries to fight our wars for us. On the other hand, it's all too easy to let a scary word define a debate, and a desire for U.S. citizenship is a far cry from just accepting a paycheck in return for carrying a gun. Besides, my grandfather joined the Navy because he wanted to become an electrician and they were the only ones willing to train him at a price he could afford (i.e., nothing). Plenty of others have signed up in order to take advantage of the GI Bill to get an education. Does that make them mercenaries? Of course not.

But I'm still not sure what I think. It's worth a discussion, though.

Kevin Drum 1:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (122)

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Comments

It reeks.

I can't say why exactly, but it reeks.

Posted by: craigie on April 12, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Our first guy killed in Iraq was an illegal immigrant.

Posted by: QrazyQat on April 12, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

On the one hand, as Boot acknowledges, it reeks of hiring mercenaries to fight our wars for us

Well, hell, we're already doing that anyway.

Posted by: kc on April 12, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

There may already be something like that in place. Check out this reference.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 12, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Max Boot has a pretty plan so long as we take out the part about giving the illegal aliens citizenship or residency in America. We should give them money and then send them back to their own country after they're finished.

Posted by: Al on April 12, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Not a problem.

Of the 43% global population that intends to move to Southern California, half are male and the cost of training some $100,000/private, then without a doubt we have enough paper to print some:

$300,000,000,000,000,000 or
300 gazillion bazillion dollars, actually substantially more than the amount needed to provide Drum's free medical care to the 6 billion who intend to move next door to him.

Of course, we would have alternative service, such as peace core or volunteer America. Peace core makes more sense, they would come here, sign up, then go back home, all expenses paid for a lifetime of service.

Posted by: Matt on April 12, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

It sure worked for the Romans!

Posted by: spartikus on April 12, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

It reeks.

I can't say why exactly, but it reeks.
Posted by: craigie

There's something fundamentally rotten about a country whose fighting-age citizens enthusiastically support unprovoked invasions, but refuse to fight in them, to the point that we have to recruit non-citizens to do our dirty work.

Foreigners killing foreigners in the name of Old Glory. While we watch the show on CNN. Yeah, that would reek to high heaven.

Posted by: kc on April 12, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get it. Foreign citizens are already free to join the US Armed Forces whether or not they have a green card, and the Immigration Dept already takes successful completion of military service into account when analyzing visa/green card applications. So remind me again what we need to change in our laws?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on April 12, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Second, it would increase the armed forces' knowledge of foreign languages and customs."

This will come in handy when we invade Mexico.

Posted by: Eric on April 12, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

What good does it do to have Spanish speaking soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran? Or does Max Boot know something about W's plans to invade Mexico (or Venezuela?) that the rest of us haven't heard about?

Posted by: anonymous on April 12, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

My great-grandfather came to this country so he could enlist in the Army and fight in World War I; family lore has it that this was a pretty-much guaranteed fast-track to citizenship.

Such a plan does, of course, exploit the poor and powerless...but hell, life in general does that just fine. If it enables otherwise law-abiding and productive illegal aliens to integrate more fully into American life, it's an idea worth considering.

Posted by: Arr-squared on April 12, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

There is already a pretty low percentage of our fighting force coming from people who have other options in life (a good job, college etc). I don't really see how this is any different than offering to pay for college for poor kids, or what your grandfather did.

Posted by: Moobycow on April 12, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

QuazyQat beat me to the punch: Jose Gutierrez was the first US combat casualty in Iraq. He was an impoverished orphan from Guatemala, who entered the US illegally (apparently he jumped trains all the way across Mexico). One story has it that he was inspired after he heard a local priest saying America was the land of opportunity.

There have been a number of other illegal immigrants who were killed in Iraq, many of whom were subsequently awarded citizenship. Apparently, one of the most easy ways to get citizenship in the US is to die in the line of service.

http://www.usarc.army.mil/63rsc/newsposthumous.htm

I don't know what's more appalling, the nativist-first notion that it would be a win-win for everyone to use immigrants as cannon fodder, or the fact that so many people seem unaware that we already are.

Posted by: theorajones on April 12, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

re Spartikus and the Romans -- The Phonoecians also used lots of foreign mercenaries. I guess Max isn't the first citizen of a superpower to think that there might be some advantages in letting other people die for their cause.

Posted by: NeilS on April 12, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Definitely a new most-hilarious post for Al.

Posted by: eckersley on April 12, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Plenty of others have signed up in order to take advantage of the GI Bill to get an education. Does that make them mercenaries? Of course not.

No, it makes us a country in which the least advantaged citizens are put in the position of choosing between trying to make it without a college education or risking their lives to get one. Does that seem like a step forward? Or a way to get the poor and desperate to do the work no one else wants to do?

Posted by: shortstop on April 12, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

This suggestion seems taylor made for a nod of approval from conservatives who, while lambasting social programs in which the federal government creates jobs or job training programs for people who want to work, are more than happy to embrace a program in which the federal government creates jobs and job training programs for people who don't mind, you know, killing other people.

Posted by: flex on April 12, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, that is his second best argument??? That somehow Mexican soldiers will help us with language and diplomacy in the Middle East?

Lack of soldiers to fill the ranks should be a sign that the public doesn't fully support our foreign adventures, not an excuse to outsource the problem to a desperate immigrant.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 12, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

kc nailed it @ 1:15.

It is an ethically ugly idea.


Posted by: koreyel on April 12, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Aw hell no.

A US Soldier is motivated by a sense of patriotism and loyalty to his country. So, exactly how does that line up with a guy who wants in so he can get a job?

With a gun, and posession of sensitive tactical information, a guy with no sense of loyalty or duty to the US could make a LOT of money in Iraq. Not necessarily in OUR best interest.

It's a fucking stupid insane idea.

There's a solution to our immigration problem. Enforce our current laws.
Preventing illegals from entering this country and working protects THEM as well as us. If there's an unemployment problem in Mexico, then the Mexican government can fucking fix their own problems.

I wouldn't be adverse to increasing immigration quotas, even substantially. But these people have to come into this country legally, and be legal, so they can stand on equal footing with other American citizens in a fair labor market. THEN they can have an opportunity to join the military.

THEN we can rely on their loyalty, and THEN we can know we're doing the right thing, and not exploiting a desperate person.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Really, you surprise me one this one. There are many arguments against it, but here's one, perhaps not so obvious, you should consider: by making military service a possible fast track to citizenship you reinforce the idea that military service and citizenship are necessarily entwined. We have far too much of this already. Lots of good citizens never have anything to do with the military, nor should they. When their country really needs their service, then they're ready to serve (e.g WW II), but the idea that some large percentage of the population should serve in the military in normal times is really kind of dangerous. Consider the countries that have excessive fondness for the military. It's not a comforting group.

Posted by: ralph on April 12, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Look, already you do not need to be an American citizen to join up. Many in Iraq are not US citizens.

If there were a draft, the rules - as they currently stand - require all men (citizens and non-citizens alike) in the US to sign up. Non-citizens are already eligible for the draft.

I say, if we require service of them (non-citizens) we should be obligated to give them something in return. If that means a shorter route to citizenship, so be it.

Posted by: nne on April 12, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Osama said it best- I am for immigation but the bribe to serve may not make them the type of citizens we desire- if anything- they would appreciate the cynicism of this country-I don't think any of us need any help on that front.

Posted by: raoul on April 12, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Great. Not only a mercenary army, but a foreign mercenary army. Has this guy Boot read Gibbon?

Posted by: theophylact on April 12, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Sure worked for the Romans is an excellent perspective. Many old empires started relying on mercenaries and it mostly didn't work out so well.

It creates a yawning gap between the soceity and the people with guns. And almost invariably the people with guns decide to just impose their will.

Already in the US there is a growing gap between the military and civilians. The military is far more conservative and ferverent GOPers than the civilian sector (yes despite the fact they take free health care, housing, education and all that socialist stuff - what do you want consistency).

Giving free citizenship is a horrible idea because in the long run it will just widen the military civilian split.

In fact the US needs to look at the problem in the opposite way. How much military power do we really want - and are willing to pay for? And then pull out from all the commitments above that level.

And practically that would mean a massive strategic retreat around the world. Because Americans aren't willing to pay or bleed for the level of military that we have now.

Ike was right.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 12, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Just want to add to mine of 1:23 before I get called on it: I don't know what the solution is to the ethical problem of bribing people to go into the military with college, other training or citizenship.

But the issue, which is not simple, is not non-citizens. It's paying people without opportunities to do what you can't get better-advantaged individuals to do. By that standard, of course Kevin's grandfather and everyone who enlists to get a college education are mercenaries. What else would you call it?

Posted by: shortstop on April 12, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

"It sure worked for the Romans!"

LOL, you beat me to it, verbatim!

The last thing the US needs is to start hiring masses of foreigners to fill the ranks of the military. Even for the promise of eventual citizenship, their loyalties will always be suspect to some, even within the military. How far do you let them advance? Can they be officers? How high do they go? If you set a limit, how do you deal with someone who clearly should go higher.

It makes it easier for enemies to infiltrate the military.

It makes us even more dependent on foreigners than we are now, even as we export more of our production capability, technological prowess, and even financing of the government to foreigners.

If there were a legitmate threat to the US, americans would join up in droves. What you are seeing right now is democracy in action - people know there is not legitmate threat to the US, and they are not interested in dying for Exxon's stake in Iraqi oil fields.

Swelling the ranks with foreigners only increases the odd of Republican governments in the future missusing the military on avoidable wars.

Its a bad, bad, bad idea.

Posted by: Mysticdog on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

It's also a tad ironic from the "Holy War" or "clash of civilizations" point of view (if you buy into that crap).

Crusaders recaptured Spain from the (Muslim) Moors.
Spanish explorers discovered and colonized much of the New World. Had that first step been skipped, much of the New World would indeed be Muslim. Indeed, some of the Moorish Culture is present today, when you look at Mexican architecture, which is present in the US all across the American Southwest.
So now, the descendents of the Moors are being outsourced to invade other Muslim lands.

No wonder it's appealing to the Michael (Weeeener) Savage types.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I believe serving in the military would require some level of assimilation into the needs of the military, which would include learning and using English. Would that assume illegals have some motivation to assilimilate into the US culture versus isolating themselves into a hispanic community which maintains it's own culture, language and ways?

Posted by: pencarrow on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

For a long time, Filipinos have been permitted to join the U.S. Navy and access citizenship. I think most sailors view it as very successful, a source of good folks and good citizens.

Posted by: Jimbo on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Three U.S. soldiers among 12 dead in Iraq

More murders tied to Bush.

Indeed, over 2000 Americans, and uncounted others, murdered due to Bush's actions makes him a mass murderer.

Just like Saddam.

Posted by: Advocate for God on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Use the desire to serve in the military as a personality test to determine who is most likely to become the next Timothy McVeigh, not to determine citizenship worthiness.

I have always considered the military as a welfare (cheaters) system. The military has always been a place of last resort for those unable to make it in the real world or who cannot afford an education. The cliches of Sad Sack, Beetle Baily and Sgt. Bilko have become archetypes for a reason. The military also keeps hundreds of inept, inefficient, and fraudulent businesses afloat for reasons of corruption masked as national security. Perhaps ever nation requires a military, but ours has become as corrupt as the Third Reich's.

Posted by: Hostile on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I need to add I disagree with Osama's view on immigration-Mexico is not some isolated outpost-as it goes- goes this country- teh solution: open the borders, raise the minimum wage and demand that American corporations in Mexico pay beter wages. Here is a news shocker- illegal immigration will continue to increase as long as wages are so far apart and no measure, except the most extreme (and expensive, e.g., five year jail time for any businessman who hires an alien) will stop or even slow down teh flow- it is written in history.

Posted by: raoul on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

It shouldn't be considered a solution for anything.

If foreigners want to join the army, and as an exchange they get citizinship, that's fine.

There aren't going to be enough people doing this to solve either shortcoming.

We can solve the armed forces problem by pulling out of Iraq.

The immigration problem won't be quite so simple.

Posted by: DR on April 12, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

There already non-citizens serving in the armed forces. If we dont have a problem with non-citizens serving in our military, we shouldnt have a problem letting them become citizens.

Am I missing something here?

Posted by: jimmy on April 12, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Also, just to follow up, what would US soldiers think if their ranks were overly diluted by non citizens, with less education, and definitely less patriotism? These guys are taught they are the elite and most patriotic members of society , and rightly or wrongly it is a big part of their motivation. You can't even allow patriotic american Gays into the ranks for fear of upsetting unit coherency. And you want to fill the ranks with non-citizens?

Posted by: Mysticdog on April 12, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

We could riff on the stereotype of illegal aliens taking jobs for less and make them REAL mercenaries -- replacing the private security contractors.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 12, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

My father was drafted in 1940 when he had been in the USA for aboutr 10 months. He was quite proud that they made him a citizen before thsy shippe dhim over seas during WW II. I see no problem with letting foreigners join the military in return for citizenship, upon completion of their service.

Posted by: Arthur Arfa on April 12, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

To be clear, I don't have a problem with taking a few non citizens who prove themselves capable and willing to be in the military, and I think rewarding them with citizenship for their service is appropriate. But only in very particular circumstances, with the cream of crop as it were.

Opening the floodgates with a general policy of actively recruiting immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, is a bad idea.

Posted by: Mysticdog on April 12, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yea, I am pretty sure tbrosz and others above are right (and his link seems to confirm it): This already exists.

So whatever good or ill it does it is already doing.

Posted by: jefff on April 12, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I need to add I disagree with Osama's view on immigration-Posted by: raoul on April 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

No Raoul, you agree with me.

teh solution: open the borders,

I did say that I was in favor of increasing quotas. "Open the borders" would be a disaster. Countries have borders for a reason; for the purpose of defining the territory as a Sovereign Nation.
What you're proposing is Mexico becoming a US State - which is not a bad idea IMO.

raise the minimum wage and demand that American corporations in Mexico pay beter wages.

. .. in other words, enforce US laws in Mexico.

Here is a news shocker- illegal immigration will continue to increase as long as wages are so far apart

Damn right. So increase quotas and let the market work fairly.

Or - open the borders - but US Laws would have to apply in Mexico to make the labor market fair in this scenario - which effectively makes Mexico a US State.

and no measure, except the most extreme (and expensive, e.g., five year jail time for any businessman who hires an alien)

I'm all for that. We have to do one or the other.

We either have a border or we don't.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

In case anyone is interested in seeing how the French handle this situation or in enlisting in the la Lgion trangre: http://www.legion-recrute.com/

The Legion is limited to fewer than 8,000 men.

One the issue of citizenship (from the FAQ):

4. Conversely, can a foreign born legionnaire become French ?

Yes. A legionnaire of foreign nationality can ask for French nationality after three years service. He must have been through military regularization of situation and be serving under his real name. He must no longer have problems with the authorities, and he must have served with honour and fidelity for at last three years. French nationality cannot be granted under declared identity .


Legionnaires Code of Honour

Article 1

Legionnaire, you are a volunteer, serving France with honour and fidelity .

Article 2

Each legionnaire is your brother in arms whatever his nationality, his race or his religion might be. You show to him the same close solidarity that links the members of a same family.

Article 3

You respect your traditions and your superiors.
Discipline and friendship are your strengths.
Courage and honesty are your virtues

Article 4

You are proud of being a legionnaire.
You are always well mannered and smart. Your behaviour is of the best. You are always modest and your quarters are always clean and tidy.

Article 5

You are an elite soldier who is rigorous with himself. You consider your weapon as your most precious possession. You constantly maintain your physical fitness.

Article 6

The mission for you is sacred. It is carried out until the end, in the respect of the law, the customs of war and of International Conventions, if needs be, at the risk of your own life

Article 7

In combat you act without passion or hatred. You respect vanquished enemies.
You never surrender either
your dead,
your wounded,
or your weapons.

Posted by: arkie on April 12, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

How very French.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on April 12, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Good idea, for prospective dictators.

Today's Army, however politically it may lean in the aggregate, owes millions of loyalties. Each soldier brings loyalty to a family somewhere in the smalltown America. To a Republican uncle, to a Democratic sister, and maybe even to a weird cousin in the Green party. To a pastor, to a cub scout leader, to his first grade teacher and to his high school track coach.

Try replacing this with a hundred thousand recruits from all around the world. Whatever their own histories or philosophies, they will all have one thing in common: their family's wealth now depends on loyalty to a single chain of command.

Not to mention that it makes war way too easy.

Posted by: monkeyshoes on April 12, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, why not. Gaius Germanicus Bush can use them to fill up his Praetorian Guard.

Posted by: joe on April 12, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

"I have always considered the military as a welfare (cheaters) system. The military has always been a place of last resort for those unable to make it in the real world or who cannot afford an education."

Thanks for the insult. I'll pass it along to my father, my wife, my son, my three brothers, and my three nephews. We have served or are serving now (one in Iraq). We must be doomed to remain trapped in the "welfare system".

Posted by: arkie on April 12, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

What? No one made the what-seems-to-me-to-be-obvious comment?
OK.
Heinlein's proposition (in Starship Troopers?) was that you couldn't vote or run for office UNTIL you served in the military. Everybody else were tourists and passengers.

Of course, that wouldn't have disqualified Bush.

Disclaimer: I applied for a CO during the Vietnam era.

Posted by: Stewart Dean on April 12, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

As several posters have noted, military service in exchange for citizenship is a time-tested concept in the US. Lots of "foreigners" (i.e., Scots and Irish) in the Union army during the Civil War, for example.

And though I normally detest Boot, he's not too far off base here. I, for one, have always been in favor of national service -- not necessarily military, but some overt commitment to the wider polity (Peace Corps, VISTA, Red Cross, whatever) [and yes, I did 20 years in the armed forces].

At a minimum, it would undermine the radical right talking point that "those people" are a "threat" or are "disloyal," blah blah blah.

And while Spanish-speaking soldiers wouldn't be much more use in Afghanistan or Iraq than are native English speakers, they would be of great use in Central and South America where, like it or not, we have substantial military commitment.

It wouldn't resolve the military's recruitment/retention problem, nor would it solve the immigration debate, but it would certainly take some of the wind out of the sails of the nativists, would provide a means of upward-mobility for the immigrants (since, presumably, English skills, etc., would either be taught or imparted by necessity), and would resolve some of the pressure on the armed forces in terms of personnel matters.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on April 12, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

It is a bad and immoral idea that is no different than the current jobs situation: Illegal immigrants are overwhelmingly doing jobs that Americans are not interested in because such jobs are beneath them. So, are you having trouble recruiting soldiers because the pride to serve has been seriously undermined by the reckless, mindless and immoral policies of the current administration? No problem, we'll just get us some illegal immigrants to make up for it! Just sweeten the deal with a promise of citizenship and they'll agree to go from being live illegal immigrants to dead citizens, killed fighting in one of immoral Bush wars...

It reeks. Period.

Posted by: dcshungu on April 12, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Don't mind Hostile, arkie. She's a fake persona created by a wingnut.

Posted by: shortstop on April 12, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

As several others have pointed out above, we already allow non-citizens to join up; I met several many years ago when I was doing some college teaching for the Navy & Marines. Those guys definitely viewed their service as a pretty much guaranteed route to citizenship - meaning they fully expected to become "one of us." And they were as gung-ho as everybody else I met.

It looks as if Boot either doesn't know that this is already common practice or he thinks that the current system needs to be expanded or further loosened up - "open the floodgates," as someone above mentioned.

And, Matt, it's the Peace "Corps"...

Posted by: Wonderin on April 12, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

....This would address two critical shortcomings. First, it would make it easier for the U.S. armed forces to fill their ranks with high-quality volunteers. Second, it would increase the armed forces' knowledge of foreign languages and customs.

Third, and most important, it would allow distinguished conservatives like Max Boot to continue talking up wars of aggression without risk to their own yellow-bellied skins.

Posted by: Wapiti on April 12, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I thought we already did this. I'm not sure we do it specifically for the undocumented, but the immigration law already is full of fast tracks and other benefits for those in the military and veterans.

Posted by: the Dude on April 12, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say any idea that allows the American public to be further isolated from the impact of their support for a war is a bad one.

Posted by: Paul on April 12, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK
This is an idea that's been floating around for a long time,...

...and it is also current policy. Indeed, Bush signed a law further streamlining the process of naturalization for military personnel in 2004, so its already been further advanced during the present war.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 12, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

It would appear that Boot did absolutly zero research before he wrote his column.

Here is an AP story that appeared in the Army Times last April:

http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-788226.php

Enlistment rate of foreign nationals declines

By Laura Wides
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES The number of foreign nationals enlisting in the U.S. military is dropping, even though service now provides a fast track to American citizenship, an Associated Press review of military data shows.
The decrease in non-citizen enlistees, who hail from countries such as the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria and Germany, has hit all branches of the armed services, which already are struggling with recruitment as the U.S. presence in Iraq enters year three.

From further down in the story:

In July 2002, Bush ordered automatic citizenship eligibility for foreign nationals on active duty who joined on or after Sept. 11, 2001 (citizenship also was granted to those who died in war and their families). In November 2003, Bush signed legislation that let all non-citizens apply for citizenship after one year of service, rather than three.

Posted by: arkie on April 12, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Again Kevin, you have proven that you have become nothing but a pawn for big brother.
The problem is not that we don't have enough soldiers! We have way too many.
The problem is that we have too many wars!

Ever since you went over to the washington monthly you have become more and more a dupe for the corporations

Posted by: Rick on April 12, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Newsreel announcer: Join the Mobile Infantry and save the Galaxy. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?

Johnny Rico: Mr. Rasczak, I want to join the Federal Service and become a citizen. But my Dad thinks I should go to college and remain a civilian as he has. What should I do?
Jean Rasczak: Figuring things out for yourself is practically the only freedom anyone really has nowadays. Use that freedom.

Posted by: Peatey on April 12, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, yeah, they'll probly do it for 3 bucks an hour, too. Then I kin watch war on TV cheap!

Posted by: SqueakyRat on April 12, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK
On the one hand, as Boot acknowledges, it reeks of hiring mercenaries to fight our wars for us. ...Plenty of others have signed up in order to take advantage of the GI Bill to get an education. Does that make them mercenaries? Of course not.

I think the relevant sense of "mercenary", here, is "A professional soldier hired for service in a foreign army." (see noun defn. 2, from American Heritage, here.)

So, yes, US citizens who served for GI bill benefits are not much like mercenaries at all, whereas foreigners lured to fight our wars by the promise of expedited citizenship are a lot more like mercenaries.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 12, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Starship Troopers (1997) has too many quotes that are applicable here:

::Iran::
Jean Rasczak: You see a bug hole, NUKE IT!

::Recruiting::
Newsreel announcer: We have the ships. We have the weapons. We need soldiers. Soldiers like Lieutenant Stack Lumbreiser...

::Neo-con::
Jean Rasczak: All right, let's sum up. This year in history, we talked about the failure of democracy. How the social scientists of the 21st Century brought our world to the brink of chaos. We talked about the veterans, how they took control and imposed the stability that has lasted for generations since. We talked about the rights and privileges between those who served in the armed forces and those who haven't, therefore called citizens and civilians.
[to a student]
Jean Rasczak: You. Why are only citizens allowed to vote?
Student: It's a reward. Something the federation gives you for doing federal service.
Jean Rasczak: No. Something given has no basis in value. When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.

Posted by: Peatey on April 12, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

How about this?

You join, you serve, you're a citizen, and can vote.

If you were born a citizen, you can already vote, but you have to use a Diebold machine.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I have a better idea for improving the quality and quantity of our military recruitment: don't fight wars of aggression sold to the American people on lies.

I kept hearing about how military standards and goals were increasing in terms of percent of recruits (and people in more particular ranks) with specified levels of education, prior to the ill-conceived adventure in Iraq, which forced the rewards to be upped and the standards to be dropped to keep recruitment marginally acceptable.

Plenty of people are willing to risk their lives for this country, its values and its people.

A lot fewer are willing to risk their lives for lies serving narrow interests, and the defense of George W. Bush image.

And that's as it should be.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 12, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I like one of Heinlein's lesser known military ideas. Wars could only be declared by non-anonymous plebiscite, and everyone who voted for war was automatically drafted.

Posted by: sburnap on April 12, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

". .. in other words, enforce US laws in Mexico."

You mean we actually get to ENFORCE that whole NAFTA thing?

Posted by: Off Colfax on April 12, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

This is an easy one, Kevin. You don't like it, and most sane people won't either, because today's motivations for this move are wrong. A (nation with a) well-staffed army (navy, air force, ...) might still argue for this policy, on grounds that good people who make common cause with the US in an obviously patriotic duty should be given citizenship as a reward. But the motivation for this argument today is that (a) citizens don't believe today's wars are patriotic, and (b) economic migrants will take this as a worthwhile risk to take in order to legally immigrate with their families.

If enough soldiers are motivated by this rather than by any sense of loyalty or duty, the army itself will become a separate constituency, with it's own independent dynamics. Kind of like Turkey, or Algeria, or (shudder) Pakistan. This cannot be a good thing for a democracy.

Posted by: Amit Joshi on April 12, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

We already do this. Have always done.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on April 12, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to recall the Roman Empire had some experience with this....how'd that turn out, anyway?

Posted by: Stefan on April 12, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to recall the Roman Empire had some experience with this....how'd that turn out, anyway?

Been covered. See above.

Posted by: shortstop on April 12, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

So it would be O.K. for someone to put his life on the line for the U.S.A. but that wouldn't pretty well automatically make him/her citizen material ?

Someone needs to give their head a good shake. If a demand made to someone is too difficult, the rhetorical question is : " What do you want : blood ? " Exactly.
Ingrates.

Posted by: opit on April 12, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Peatey:

At least use quotes from Heinlein's book, and not the atrocious movie.

In the book, a period of civil service (not just military) was required prior to being able to vote or hold office. And then, only after the person had retired from such service. In other words, active military personnel couldn't vote either.

Service was completely voluntary. Nobody could force you to join, and nobody could stop you if you wanted to.

Anybody who has seen the movie and never read the book is missing a lot.

It seems like there's a similar system in play on some liberal comment boards, where unless you have actually fought in Iraq, you are not considered to be a legitimate commenter on the war.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 12, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

So it would be O.K. for someone to put his life on the line for the U.S.A. but that wouldn't pretty well automatically make him/her citizen material ?

Unless they're putting their life on the line for Money. That would make them Mammon-cult material.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
So it would be O.K. for someone to put his life on the line for the U.S.A. but that wouldn't pretty well automatically make him/her citizen material ?

So, should anyone who works in a hazardous occupation which provides public benefit to the United States, even outside the military, get the same benefit? If not, why not?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 12, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: It seems like there's a similar system in play on some liberal comment boards, where unless you have actually fought in Iraq, you are not considered to be a legitimate commenter on the war.

There're probably two or three people on liberal comment boards who've actually said that.

What most of us say, however, is this: Unless you put your body, your loved ones' bodies or your tax dollars--in other words, share in the sacrifice you ask others to make--you have no business engaging in empty cheerleading of the war, because you're doing nothing to support it and in fact are actively working against it.

That's what we say to you, Tom. What we said to Lurker this morning was a little more explicit: You say you'd be in Iraq if you weren't too old? You're not too old. Bon voyage.

(cricket chirps fill the empty spaces where the loud boasts used to be)

Posted by: shortstop on April 12, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry--that should have been "put your body, your loved ones' bodies or your tax dollars... out there..."

Posted by: shortstop on April 12, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

As long as they can speak English, hey I'm all for it.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on April 12, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Reeks to high heaven.

Can you smell a mercenary? I can. Let's recruit foreigners as lackey soldiers. They'd have little trouble shooting us - in the back if necessary.

Posted by: ljr on April 12, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

This program already exists.

HELLO???

Posted by: reef the dog on April 12, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Chill, Osama.
Neither you nor I have passed "Mind Reading 101" so as to be able to determine people's motivations, yet : which are often a mixed bag regardless.
You don't seem to recall that I think Iraq has been an absolute botch-up since immediately after Bush's declaration of vistory at the latest ( and didn't see any compelling reason to start in the first place).
Armed forces are supposed to be defense services. I can't help it if that crucial role has been abused so long that evereyone forgot its critical necessity.
cm dicely If you read Tom's reference, you saw that was already a practical possibility.

Posted by: opit on April 12, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I soldiered with a Mexican national 56 years ago. He had been drafted in Chicago. When I asked him why he didn't just go home to Tampico he said "Citizenship." I've always assumed there was such a deal for immigrants who served honorably in our military. His name, apropos of nothing was Jesus H. Gonzalez, perhaps the original for that watered-down curse?

Posted by: budy66 on April 12, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK
Armed forces are supposed to be defense services. I can't help it if that crucial role has been abused so long that evereyone forgot its critical necessity.

I think you miss the point: the point is, if you fix the problem of the abuse of the armed services, the problem that further recruitment of foreign mercenaries is supposed to solve will, from the evidence prior to the Iraq debacle, go away.

Thus obviating the need for attempts to accelerate the replacement of the US-recruited military with foreign auxiliaries.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 12, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Max Boot says: "...it would increase the Armed Forces' knowledge of foreign languages and customs." Huh?

Ostensibly, those most likely to join as a result of such a program would be Latinos coming from our Southern borders. There is already a substantial percentage of Latino-Americans in the armed forces, so the increased knowledge would be negligible.

To have any relevance to our Middle East problems, we would need Arabs and Persians to enlist. How many native Saudis, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Iranians, etc. do you think the Army would allow to enlist in order to bolster our troop strength in Iraq? My bet - very few.

There may be some other reason why this is a good idea, but increasing relevant cultural awareness in the armed forces isn't one of them.

Posted by: Paul on April 12, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

cm dicely Vaya con dios
If the U.S. is so self -sufficient that acquiring resolute young men with stars in their eyes is impractical because they aren't home-grown : to hell with all of you.

Posted by: opit on April 12, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush Grand Strategy:

Invite the world
Invade the world
In hock to the world

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 12, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Roman Empire used to fill out its legions with Gauls and Germans, and the British Empire used foriegn fighters and mercenaries all the time. Remember the Hessians from American history books?

Given that our country's current policies seem to be in line with the creation of a new 21st century American hegemony, why should we be any different?

Therefore, I would think that the proper question at this point in time should not be whether we would accept foriegn recruits and mercenaries into our military, but whether the people of the United States are willing to accept their nation's evolvement (or devolvement, perhaps) into the publicly acknowledged realm of empire.

But really -- didn't Americans have this discussion back in 1890s, when the United States illegally overthrew Hawaii's constitutional monarchy, imprisoned Queen Lili'uokalani (on a charge of treason, of all things!), and annexed the Hawaiian Islands? It might be worthwhile to re-visit those late 19th century arguments, both pro and con, before adopting such a policy again.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 12, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Whenever people ... entrust the defense of their country to a regular, standing army, composed of mercenaries, the power of that country will remain under the direction of the most wealthy citizens..."

"A Framer", in the Independent Gazetteer, 1791

Posted by: Stefan on April 12, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Mercenaries? Fast track to citizenship? Jasmyne expresses my sentiments exactly. Gays first, then illegals, fuck you very much.

Its a slap in the face to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to take up the debate on whether to give people who are in this country illegally additional rights when we havent even given the people who are here legally all of their rights.

There is no moving to the front of the line. Abolish Don't Ask, Don't Tell, give gays equal rights and then we can coffee talk about fast tracking citizenship for illegal aliens, Mr. Drum. Pinch me, Mary, but is this still a liberal blog? I'm fed up with you timid ghettoizing wimpy centrist pimps. Mr. Drum, you ain't no mister if you pussy-foot around passively ignoring gays at the back of the bus. Grow some!

Posted by: The Gay Millionaire on April 12, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Most experts in counterinsurgency say that we need to double our forces in Iraq in order for a chance to succeed. Unless we are willing to institute the Draft, falling recruitment will force this country to institute some form of mobilization equivalent to an American Foreign Legion.

Posted by: Jon Karak on April 12, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: I have a better idea for improving the quality and quantity of our military recruitment: don't fight wars of aggression sold to the American people on lies.

Amen.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 12, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jon Karak: Most experts in counterinsurgency say that we need to double our forces in Iraq in order for a chance to succeed. Unless we are willing to institute the Draft...

Accoding to the DoD, we're suppose to have quite a few more than that many Iraqi's in advanced stages of readiness... <sarcasm> triple-play: they're there; they're trained; and no additional current US nationals required. </sarcasm> It would be interesting to see how many of them would take the offer. Or how many have tried.

Posted by: has407 on April 12, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Most experts in counterinsurgency say that we need to double our forces in Iraq in order for a chance to succeed. Unless we are willing to institute the Draft, falling recruitment will force this country to institute some form of mobilization equivalent to an American Foreign Legion.

Or, on the other hand, stop fucking around with foreign wars of aggression if Americans who claim to support them aren't actually willing to fight them. If Americans won't fight a war it may be a good sign that it's not worth fighting.

Posted by: Stefan on April 12, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Supposedly all these illegal immigrants are taking jobs that citizens don't want. I guess the military is one of them?

Posted by: chloe on April 12, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

craigie wrote
It reeks.

I can't say why exactly, but it reeks.

Posted by: craigie on April 12, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it REALLY reaks.

It reeks the same way enthusiasts for America , recently arrived but not fully acculturated, often get all the important details wrong.

It could be due to fanaticism. Killing in the name of freedom is by definition ill-advised -- and contrary to the American way.

It could be due to being ill-informed about how free citizens treat those they disagree with. It could come from mistaking money for liberty.

But MOSTLY, it reeks for the same reason the all-volunteer military does: it disconnects our soldiers from the public interest component of national security. It sucks for the same reason private military contractors stink: they completely and utterly invert and pervert the national interest -- by remaining so unaccountable before any law that they can do more harm than good to the political and military prospects for gaining any kind of advantage in a war.

Just as no foreign-born citizen can become President -- the risk is not so much wholesale betrayal, as it is the misguided notion that you can lead with your brain rather than with the cultural understanding that provides a real capacity to steer the country in the right direction. That you can kill for freedom -- that slaughter can solve the problem at hand. Because that understanding has allowed Americans to choose just causes, defensive battles, and a restrained use of military force (yes, i know, both true and not true.)

What's more this stinks for the same reason that Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney General stinks. Ameican though he be, his dear old Dad was a judge in Honduras -- and we know how well the judicial system worked down there in the 1960s -1980s. It's quite clear Gonzalez has brought a bit of tyranny to his office.

Now before everybody gets all riled up -- I don't object to immigrants/newcomers/etc. holding public office, most do so quite admirably. At the same time, it's also clear that we have failed to teach Gonzales and Viet Dinh and John Yoo that patriotism is meaningless if it cannot be tempered by a full, rational, and acculturated understanding of what this country means and how live up to that. Because you cannot torture the law in order to achieve unjust and indefensible means. You cannot destroy our liberty and pretend to protect any American.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on April 12, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

I know a landscaper who hires a new crew of illegals every week, and doesn't pay any of them. Perhaps we could do something similar with the military.

Posted by: myron on April 12, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's a great idea. And the immigrants will benefit because they will recieve provable job skills and English training. I met a woman in Thailand who did this. She was from Laos and fought 8 years in the Lao Royal Army. When the Pathet Lao won in 1975, she had to leave the country or be killed. She ended up in a refugee camp in Laos. She pleaded for them to allow her into the Thai army, and they let her in because she had been an officer in Laos. She wasn't even asking for citizenship, just a way out of the camp. But they told that if she stayed in the Thai army for 10 tears, she'd get Thai citizenship. She agreed to the deal and they immediately shipped her to Cambodia. She spent 4 years fighting the Khmer Rouge and then an additional 8 years fighting the Vietnamese occupation. They wouldn't let her leave after 10 years because the war was still ongoing. She sacrificed a lot for that Thai citizenship. But she is nothing but grateful for the opportunity. And she is proud to be a Thai citizen, despite the fact that the Thai look down on her for being Lao. I was moved by her story and I have no doubt that many immigrants to the US would treat the opportunity the same way she did.

Posted by: tom on April 12, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, the refugee camp was in Thailand, not Laos

Posted by: tom on April 12, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, great idea, Kevin.

To show you're worthy of being "American," go kill some Arabs, Iranians, etc.

Wonderful idea.

Posted by: Bill on April 12, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Killing in the name of freedom is the only way Americans know how to act.

Posted by: Hostile on April 12, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

As Donald from Hawaii noted, the Roman Empire used this method in its later years to fill the border legions. And indeed, it was clearly an imperial tactic.

It's worth also mentioning that as a long-term strategy, it didn't work out so well for the Western Roman Empire. Once firmly in charge of the borders, many of the German mercenaries found it attractive to join their cousins from the other side and march into regions formerly known as "Gaul," "Brittania," etc., which are now called "France" after the Germanic Franks, England after the Germanic Angles, and so forth. But lest anyont think I'm drawing negative parallels with the present, let me also say that it's no longer terribly clear that this was such a bad thing (at least in the short and very long terms) for the people in those regions, given the inefficiency and brutality of Roman rule.

Relying extensively on mercenaries has consequences, one way or another, and so do large immigration flows, one way or another. The challenges we face today on the first question are to avoid the undermining of commitment to a genuine citizens' military that will respect the democratic foundations of our system. Giving citizenship to immigrants willing to serve in the military might serve that function, if done right (which means we can't let the current Administration set the rules and framework for it!)

Immigration in general, too, poses challenges, but they are different, having to do with balancing integration with pride, respect with assimilation, ensuring that immigration is managed so that it is not used to simply to inflate corporate profits, reduce labor compensation, and undermine social and economic equality, and so forth. Once again, though, that means that it is essential that the actual management and policy for immigration not be set by this Administration, I'd say!

Posted by: PQuincy on April 12, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

As much as the world respects the American Army, they'll just adore the "Army of the Americas". For one thing, we'll save a fortune on the smaller sizes of uniforms and boots. The payoff for those who survive is that US passport. Heinlein had it 50 years ago with "Starship Troopers"; Service Ensures Citizenship!

Posted by: Peter Cohen on April 12, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, let's get a bunch of foreigners to fight a in a war we ourselves never believed in.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Only good things could come of that.

Morals and ethics, baby. Morals and ethics.

Posted by: chuck on April 12, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

SombreroFallout: "At the same time, it's also clear that we have failed to teach Gonzales and Viet Dinh and John Yoo that patriotism is meaningless if it cannot be tempered by a full, rational, and acculturated understanding of what this country means and how live up to that."

Excellent point!

PQuincy: "Relying extensively on mercenaries has consequences, one way or another, and so do large immigration flows, one way or another.

Outstanding post, thanks!

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 12, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

chuck:"Yeah, let's get a bunch of foreigners to fight a in a war we ourselves never believed in....Yeah, that's the ticket. Only good things could come of that."

This comment deserves a special award as pithiest summary of a complex issue yet!

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 12, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Hello?! As noted by a few others alread, a fast track to US citizenship to aliens who serve in the Armed Services is already part of the US immigration law. Illegals or even non-resident aliens who sign up to serve following 9/11 are eligible for citizenship after they are discharged. Max needs to do a little research before he offers up any more "new" ideas.

Posted by: nne on April 12, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

this is old news:

http://www.sptimes.com/2003/04/05/Worldandnation/Deaths_shine_light_on.shtml

Deaths shine light on noncitizens in military
Associated Press
April 5, 2003

DALY CITY, Calif. -- Among the first U.S. troops killed in Iraq were men who died for a country where they couldn't even cast a vote.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, a native of Guatemala, and Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay, from Mexico, were among the 31,000 noncitizens serving in the military.

Such troops normally receive little public attention, though the sacrifices of Gutierrez and Garibay have highlighted their presence and Defense Department officials say the number of noncitizens in the ranks is growing. A recent executive order speeding the citizenship process for those in uniform has made it more attractive for some immigrants to join.

Soldiers were required to complete three years of active service before applying for citizenship, but last July, President Bush issued an order making them immediately eligible. It was billed as a reward to those serving during the post-Sept. 11 war on terrorism.

Posted by: town crier on April 13, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

The reason this is ugly is the same reason that drafting the sons of interned Japanese-Americans was ugly. My mother lived in Wyoming at the time and she told us about seeing [heavily] decorated survivors of the Nissei Division after the war asking around Powell where Hart Mountain was, and of feeling ashamed and a little afraid. They didn't have to add "What have you done with my family?" To induct volunteers into military service in the hope of obtaining documents, let alone citizenship, and further to assume that only gratitude (among the survivors) will result, is nothing less than feudal. And you know hat happened to them.

Posted by: sjslide on April 13, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

If we're going to encourage a certain level of immigration, it would seem wiser to take promising college educated immigrants and those willing to perform cheap labor in order to get ahead, not grunts and foot soldiers for our foreign adventures.

Posted by: Jimm on April 13, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

The good news is then conservatives can completely not care about body armour, inferior equipment, bad strategery, and military casualties. And think of the savings.

Posted by: Pres on April 13, 2006 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK

I think of this live recording of the Chieftans in Dublin which is briefly interupted by a flyover of military jets...and into the momentary silence that occured the lead singer says: "Ah, but isn't it just grand knowing that it's OUR BOYS that are flyin' them!" and the audience erupts with cheers.

I used to feel the same way driving down Highway 71. Occasionally a jet would fly over low and fast and then as he left give me this little wing waggle: "You're dead, but have a nice day." I'd know he'd just lit me up as a potential target.

And I'd smile knowing it was some kid from Iowa or someplace with a vested interest in this country which at least partially justified the enormous investment in his training and his plane.

We apparently can't educate our own school children to a passable level of literacy but we're going to some how bring millions of immigrants with the equivalent of a 3rd grade education in another language up to modern military standards? How much is that going to cost, eh?

Whose gonna command these troops? And in what language?

You think the disconnect between the military and civilians cultures is frightening now? Imagine not being able to communicate in a common language and without any assurance of even the most basic set of shared cultural/community values...

Posted by: CFShep on April 13, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Kee-rist, I've never seen so much uninformed babble on a thread here.

Mercenaries? In mercenary armies, the mercenaries fight together as their own group (French Foreign Legion, Ghurkas, Hessians) while our immigrant soldiers disappear into the rest of the service, fully integrated.

A new idea? We've been bringing non-citizens into our armed forces forever. I've processed many applications and had many sailors that were not US citizens. They uniformly performed better than their citizen peers. They understood how much better the US is than Haiti/Guatmala/Philipines/shithole du jour.

What language? ENGLISH. They join our armed services in singles.

They deserve fast track to citizenship, whether or not it improves recruiting. Period.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 13, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

If you want to throw immigrants into a true melting pot where they are exposed to all aspects of our culture, throw them into the Army or Navy. Plenty of non-shooting jobs and careers for those not so inclined. More than any other part of our society, the services are color-blind and now even gender blind. They'll develop intense bonds that cross all racial "class" lines with their shipmates and fellow GIs. They come out more american than americans.

You guys might want to try it yourselves.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 13, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

We have served or are serving now (one in Iraq).

Citizens, especially those serving in the military, must disobey their government when it uses illegal or unethical means. Arkie and his relatives, if they are serving or have served in Iraq, have let themselves and their fellow citizens down by obeying orders to invade and occupy Iraq. They should have attempted to arrest their commanders or at least refused to obey them. If non-citizens should make up a significant portion of our military, then the responsibility of citizenship is lost and these soldiers' loyalty to the military will be greater than any responsibility to citizenship or humanity they ought to have. Not that it would make much difference, since the citizen soldiers serving now do not have the courage to question and disobey unethical orders.

Posted by: Hostile on April 13, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

If non-citizens should make up a significant portion of our military...

Yea, and if pigs had wings...

Really, what a moronically stupid strawman.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 13, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

According to some article I read yesterday there are 35,000 non citizens in the US military.

Posted by: jefff on April 13, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I am late to the game here, but I agree with dcshungu--why is this any different than other job immigrants do that Americans don't want as currently constituted? Of course those who help this country survive deserve a clear path to citizenship--and to me, picking fruit and vegetables is far better for our health than fighting a was of choice that's making the problem of terrorism worse. Only one of those is really good for me.

If it weren't for the bravery in the face of fire, etc. etc., I'd say military service is less good for our country than other hazardous, underpaid work. Instead, I'll just leave my comment at their essential equivalence...

Posted by: lefty_minion on April 13, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith of the Royal Air Force was senctenced to eight months imprisonment today for refusing to serve in Iraq. Not enough American soldiers are doing this to prevent Bush from his illegal wars.

Posted by: Hostile on April 13, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

There is great peril in offerering a fast track to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Rome followed this course. Then found out that the new "citizens" didn't want to die for Rome.

If Americans don't want to sign up for military service, there is a serious problem that should be openly addressed. This proposal is just putting a bandaid on a sucking chest wound.

Posted by: zak822 on April 13, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Ralph doesn't like "the idea that military service and citizenship [should be] necessarily entwined." As a military veteran, I agree that MILITARY service shouldn't be entwined with citizenship, but I don't see why SERVICE and citizenship shouldn't be entwined. I would have no problem with a requirement that people do some kind of service -- military or civilian -- as a prerequisite to the ability to vote. Indeed, I have no philosophical problem with the notion of a universal draft (and by universal I mean everybody who can walk and talk) for 18 months to 2 years of some kind of service, military or civilian, after high school, as a prerequisite to going to college -- even though I realize that from a practical standpoint it's unworkable. I'm proud of my daughter,who joined Teach for America after college and taught high school in St. Louis for two years; I hope that when my son finishes school in 2008 he'll choose to spend at least a year doing some kind of service as well. Service is important, and should be rewarded.

Posted by: Bob on April 13, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Mercenary armies are the norm for wealthy countries with the desire to fight, the money to fight, but only with minimal risk to their house and home. Hell, every empire (however defined) has used mercenaries, mostly to good effect.

We could easily pay a bunch of ex-Soviet or poor Asian countries to fight the Iraq war for us. And possibly do a better job. Who knows?

As for the immigrant-fast-track idea. I like it. So long as their is more than just a military option (which will lead to too many young men). Service for citizenship.

Posted by: jake_o_germany@yahoo.com on April 13, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, there was also the case of the non-citizen soldier killed in Iraq because he had to travel with a convoy in order to get a USCIS biometrics test, the wonderful federal bureaucracy having decided that his military biometrics weren't admissible.

He did get his citizenship. Posthumously.

Posted by: ahem on April 13, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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